How to get things done

Let’s say you’ve gotten yourself completely organised.

You’ve created a fantastic workflow system. You’re on top of the world – in control like you’ve never been before.

Congratulations. This is a great place to be.

But unless you consistently know the answer to one very important question, no amount of organisation or systemisation ever will matter in reaching your full productivity.

This vital question is: “What is the most important thing I should be
working on?”

The practice of asking and answering this question in relation to this year, this quarter, this month, this week, this day, this hour, changes you more than almost any other question you could
ask yourself.

The need to understand yourself and the big picture connection between who you are as a leader/owner and what you seek to accomplish in your business may not seem obvious to you at first.

So many business owners have a continual spinning sensation, almost like vertigo, as they operate in a vacuum – without any clear ability to know whether they are focusing on what will truly give them the momentum they desire.

Know where you are going. Know what to focus on. Discriminate, and you are like a high performance machine (a combination of effectiveness and efficiency).

Simple Prioritization Techniques

First, you need to be completely organized and have a good work flow system and you need to know yourself and what you seek to accomplish.

Then, try a couple of the following simple techniques:

1. Often it works to simply settle on what the most important priorities are and stay focused on these. For example, maximizing the customer experience to bring more value is often what is most important to move a business forward and create more profits.

2. Use the Urgent/Importance Matrix. The idea of measuring and combining these two competing elements in a matrix has been attributed to both former US President Eisenhower and Dr. Stephen Covey.

Eisenhower’s quote sums up the concept of the matrix perfectly: “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Covey brought the idea into the mainstream and gave it the name “The Urgent/Important Matrix” in his 1994 business classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

This simple technique helps you discriminate between what is important and what is urgent, and dramatically helps you prioritize better. You can easily explore the steps to using the matrix tactically; but I find that all an entrepreneur really needs to do is eliminate the distracting, non-urgent, and unimportant tasks then refocus time for both urgent and important ones.

There are always going to be calls to react to urgently, but (in the big picture) not so very important aspects in every position. But knowing the difference, and making certain you make time to move the important objectives and projects forward is critical.

Many other tools and techniques are available, but as with most higher-level skills, prioritization depends more on you and your ability to create that alignment between your vision, objectives and values and your decisions rather than the techniques or tools. Once you have that foundation in place, feel free to explore whatever you find that will support you in prioritization.

Awareness is the key. The more you observe, the better your understanding and the better you will be at focusing your attention proactively on what matters most while you concentrate and focus on the task at hand – working on the most important thing right now.